LAS VEGAS – One of the endearing fantasies perpetrated by Ocean’s Eleven is that Las Vegas casinos are run by power mad, sinister megalomaniacs like Andy Garcia’s Terry Benedict and Al Pacino’s Willy Bank. This, of course, is nonsense.
The only casino on the Las Vegas Strip that has one man’s personal imprint also has his name on it – Wynn. Steve Wynn’s imprint is also on the Mirage, Bellagio and Treasure Island, but he sold them to the MGM Grand a few years ago for a huge pile of cash. The Strip is basically owned by about four companies.
One of the lies casinos tell is "We love winners!" -- they put it on billboards. They don't. They'd be really happy if people would just send them a cheque.
Casinos are run by fairly anonymous corporate drones, and there’s an interesting story about how they spend their time on Richard Brodie’s blog. Brodie’s one of the Microsoft originals – he wrote Word – and these days is mostly a high stakes poker player and high roller.
Harrah’s is the largest casino company in the world – more than three dozen US casinos, including, in Vegas alone, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Caesars Palace, Paris, Bill’s Gambling Hall (formerly the Barbary Coast) and The Rio, where they’re currently running the World Series of Poker. In a company that does billions of dollars worth of business, one wonders what on earth is happening that a high roller hitting some big jackpots on video poker triggers a barring. He didn’t cheat – though, without going into excruciating detail, he saw an angle and he played it – but, frankly, there’s no high roller on earth who could, even with a streak of wild luck, threaten Harrah’s bankroll, or that of any major casino chain. But Harrah’s in its corporate incarnation is not exactly renowned in the gambling world for its customer service. The care and feeding of high rollers, an interesting and complex game, isn’t one they apparently wish to play.
On this side of Flamingo – CineVegas opened Wednesday evening with the Las Vegas Premiere of Ocean’s Thirteen, with Clooney, Pitt and Damon in attendance. They handed out press credentials on Thursday. I’m assuming they didn’t want the riff-raff bothering stars. I did see Dennis Hopper on his way to the screening. At least, he was walking through the casino, well-dressed, towards the Brendan Theatres multiplex inside The Palms. I’ll see a few things over the weekend and post Monday.
Speaking of the riff-raff, the press handout included a list of social events and parties, some of them in Vegas clubs that have “strict dress codes.” I didn’t realize that any place in America still had a strict dress code, but the no-nos on the list included flip flops, hats, ripped jeans and tennis shoes. Of course, if Lindsay Lohan turns up in a hat or fashionably ripped jeans, does anyone think they’ll send her home?
I’m fascinated by the almost archaic “tennis shoes,” a phrase I hadn’t heard in ages. If I show up in a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars or New Balance cross-trainers, will I be barred? Those aren’t actually tennis shoes.